GlaxoSmithKline has Silicon Valley top talent in its sights
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GlaxoSmithKline has Silicon Valley top talent in its sights

Big Tech, look out – Big Pharma’s coming for your employees! That’s the message that pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)’s technology chief wants to send to Silicon Valley bigwigs. Karenann Terrell, who earned her stripes at Walmart and was appointed to the GSK role last year, has said that pharmaceutical firms need to adopt strategies from the Silicon Valley playbook – and she wants to lure top staff from internet giants – and even acquire tech companies – to do it.

GlaxoSmithKline’s share price has risen by 14% so far this year

graph 2211 gsk

Source: Yahoo Finance

Terrell is aware that Big Tech has its own healthcare ambitions. Amazon, famously, has purchased the U.S.’s largest online pharmacy. Google is extending its healthcare play with Calico and Verily Life Sciences. The answer, she says, is basically to beat them at their own game:

Tech companies win by figuring out what the tactics of selling books are in order to sell web services, or they apply the tactics used in their search engine to the life sciences business. But demand for tech talent is massively different. So we have got to do this the way the tech companies do it, bringing in dream team players who build their squads around them.”

Terrell, who is credited as being a major moderniser in her time at Walmart, accepts that Big Tech has already hoovered up a lot of the best minds out there. But she thinks that GSK’s mission could help to pull some of them back out. And she notes it’s already worked on employees from Google and Salesforce.

Our culture is mission-based. We are not selling bananas. We are selling life-saving drugs. That is a huge pull to the best talent.” She said “But we have to create an environment that attracts talent and does things differently. This is the most exciting time in healthcare ever and GSK is fighting with a growth mind-set.”

Dominion holds GlaxoSmithKline in its Global Trends Managed Fund.

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